This article has been written by Dhriti Pankaj Hundia, by pursuing a Diploma in Advanced Contract Drafting, Negotiation, and Dispute Resolution from LawSikho.
A dance instructor agreement is helpful for everyone. Whether the term of the contract is for a few months or a year, it is helpful for you and your dance instructor, as it provides both parties with stability. Your instructor will be motivated and obligated to abide by their contracts, sparing you the trouble of someone quitting unexpectedly, leaving you in a lurch. Plus, they will have peace of mind if they know when and how they’ll be compensated for their services. A lot of things can go wrong in a dance instructor’s contract. The teacher may be unprofessional and take leave, they might not teach you in the style you wanted, there can be disagreements about remuneration, all of this makes the relationship bitter and full of hassle. Having a contract define the terms of the engagement beforehand, makes it a better experience for both parties, as the expectations from the job are settled.
If you are looking for work as a dance teacher and have never worked with a contract before, it can be confusing to figure out how they work and why they are important. A contract is significant because it defines the precise terms of your job. Your contract will explain what your responsibilities are and what your employer owes you. A good contract will help you understand exactly how to do your job to the satisfaction of your employer, and it also stands as a legal document protecting you if anything goes wrong. As an employer hiring a dance teacher, you may be wondering exactly what a dance teacher contract should contain. These contracts can be unusual because many dance teachers work part-time and their work may vary from one semester to the next. If you are expecting your dance teachers to put together a show, you will need to include stipulations in the contract to account for extra work at particular times of the year. As you begin drafting a professional dance company contract, keep in mind these important elements of a dance teacher contract:
A clear plan for compensation is obviously an extremely important clause to have in your contract. This includes hourly wages, as well as extra compensation to be provided for overtime and substitute teaching. Many studios also like to include bonuses or perks as incentives for bringing in new business like recruiting new students.
The remuneration part of your contract will primarily talk about how much the teacher will be paid for his/her services rendered. Make sure it’s absolutely clear, for all parties involved.
2. Leave policies
Leave is generally classified either under vacation or sick time. If your instructor calls you to cancel the class due to personal reasons, are they expected to make up for that class later on? If you cancel the class due to any reason, will the instructor still get paid? Talk about these points in the contract.
If your instructors are full-time, consider whether you’ll provide paid time off in the form of vacation days. If that is the case, how much advance notice will you need for such requests? Will you offer unpaid or unpaid vacation time for part-time teachers?
Sick days are another important aspect of leave policies. It’s important to note that the laws of many states entail you to provide a certain amount of paid sick days for full-time employees. It’s also a good idea to mention standard guidelines or the main point of contact for when the instructors are calling in sick. This will ensure the smooth functioning of your classes by allowing you enough time to find a substitute for your class.
3. Service expectations
This part of the contract should clarify the overall expectations of both parties. Write down all the intricacies relating to the number of classes to be taught by the instructor per week, the duration of the class, as well as any other additional engagements required to be performed This may include but not be limited to recitals, competitions, and other studio related events. Discuss how you and the teacher will agree on increasing or modifying their class schedule.
Service expectations may also include any details about methods and style of teaching. This may be based on a specific curriculum or class format. It may also touch upon guidelines regarding professionalism. If you are preparing for a particular dance exam to give, the class can be restricted to teaching about that form of dance only, covering it in detail.
4. Noncompete clauses
As is the case with most businesses, dance studios compete against each other in one way or another. This could be to increase the potential number of students or it could be at local or international dance competitions. For this reason, a non-compete clause may be profitable and essential for your studio to have.
If deemed appropriate, a non-compete clause can restrict your teachers to particular locations and/or situations. For example, you may prohibit them from choreographing for a studio within “x” amount of distance of your studio or starting a studio within “x” amount of distance in the locality. This usually must include a timeline for how long the non-compete will be in place, which is usually, anywhere from a few months up to an entire year.
5. Confidentiality clauses
With all the uproar around confidentiality and privacy today, this is a must-have clause in your contract. Confidentiality clauses deal with private information.
Don’t forget to put this in your contract to ensure that the instructor doesn’t divulge private information about your studio as well as information like phone numbers and email addresses of students (and parents) to a third party.
6. Dress code
Some studios maintain a strict dress code. This may be for every class or just for specific classes, such as Bharatanatyam or ballet. Some classical Indian dances require the students to be dressed in traditional clothing only.
If you require a particular cut, colour, or style of dancewear for your studio as a uniform, be sure to include this information in your contract. It may seem trivial, but trust me in the end, you will be grateful that you had it all in writing.
7. Early termination
A dance instructor’s contract should include stipulations for how employment will be terminated, whether by the teacher or by the employer. This is important because if any problems associated with termination should occur, everyone can reference the same legal document for guidance to avoid confusion and tension.
Whether the early termination of a contract is initiated by you or the teacher, make sure you include the requisite course of action for such circumstances in your contract, so that there is clarity between both the parties from the beginning itself. Most dance studio owners include clauses relating to the right to terminate a teacher at any time for numerous reasons. This typically has to do with misconduct or refusing to follow the contract that has been previously agreed upon. On the other hand, if a teacher wishes to terminate a contract early, you may want to include certain provisions. This could be a fee to compensate for the inconvenience of searching for a replacement.
If you think your instructors may need to provide up-front costs at any time, you should have a timely system for providing reimbursements. This may be for costumes or equipment required or necessities.
No matter what the reason, write down detailed instructions for submitting a reimbursement request, as well as a timeline and manner in which they’ll receive their money back. Documenting this process not only eliminates waste of time and clarity in procedure but also reassures teachers that they will be taken care of for any and all the expenses they may need to cover at first.
Additional factors to consider
Different situations can change the elements of your dance instructor contracts. Be wise, and make sure you have thought of every hiccup that may arise before drafting the contract, as each contract is unique in its own way.
9. Type of employment
Usually, most dance studio employees are not full-time. This means they are paid by the hour or per session, instead of earning an annual salary. If your dance teachers are only teaching one or two classes at your studio, they will most likely have to balance multiple jobs together. In this situation, your non-compete may look very different. Your pay structure and any benefits will also be very different. Keep these details in mind as you draft your contract.
Ensure that you do your due diligence and review every contract before sending it across to a new hire, as every situation is different.
10. Professional license
Professional licenses are often needed to teach certain classes. While this varies from country to country, your teachers may need to meet additional requirements and possess specific certifications if they teach classes for children, students with disabilities, or teach classes like maternity yoga. If this applies to your studio, it’s a good idea to emphasise the significance of teachers maintaining those licenses they have earned and have them remain in good standing.
11. Social media
Imagine you come back from your dance class today after your regular session, only to open Instagram and see a video of you dancing posted by your instructor. You don’t like the fact that a video of you dancing has been posted without your consent. You call up to take it down, she/he doesn’t budge saying they have a right to record their teaching a class.
To avoid this, it is a good idea to put in a clause about your restrictions on social media. For example, no “friending” students, etc., professional pages are fine- that way you can also track communications between students and faculty. Outline what they can and can’t post about the studio on their personal accounts. If your studio has a social media page on any networking site, it’s a good idea to have both the instructor and students’ prior consent for posting about them on it. (Make sure parents’ consent to social media photos in case of children.)
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